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Town oils the eggs of wild geese to reduce population.

Byline: Gail Stanton

ATHOL - Town officials recently stepped in to halt the growing number of geese in the area, using a method called addling.

Town Health Agent Philip Leger said when nature doesn't keep things in balance, sometimes man has to step in.

"It was necessary to do something, because if we didn't the phones would be ringing off the hook come summertime," he said. He said that is what would happen if access to the lake has to be closed because of E. coli in the water.

Workers went twice last week to the area of Lake Ellis to find goose nests and coat the eggs with vegetable oil. The practice is both legal and effective.

"It cuts off the oxygen," explained Mr. Leger. Without oxygen, the eggs die.

An area on the other side of Route 2 is scheduled to be checked next for nests.

Although the endeavor seems simple, it is not. Addling requires a state permit and people to go into the waterways to find the nests.

The town retained Leno Dodge, a licensed trapper, and used the services of a resident who lives on the lake and volunteered to help out.

They searched for the nests around the lake and coated the eggs they found using a spray bottle of oil. The oil has no scent, which is important because geese have a sense of smell.

"If they sense something is wrong with their eggs, they'll lay more," said Mr. Leger.

The team had to be careful in its work, because geese are very protective of their nests. The task is also difficult because geese are known for making their nests in areas that predators aren't likely to reach.

Although it's unknown exactly how many nests are in the area, the workers found three, each containing six to eight eggs. It is believed that there may be up to 25 nests in the area. The location of the nests was marked and the information will be used during the next egg-laying season.

According to the health agent, while the number of nests found seems to be low, it is a start.

"And the process will have an immediate impact on the area," he said.

This is the first time addling has been done at Lake Ellis, and next year is expected to be more successful.
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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Apr 23, 2010
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